First Things First
Consider these questions.
Why Are You Looking to Move?
Consider what is inspiring you to think about moving. This can include but not limited to job location, upsizing, downsizing, separation, lifestyle priorities, and more.
Is It the Right Time for You?
- The 3 F’s: friends, family, and finances.
- Length of ownership
- Renting vs owning
Why Are You Dissatisfied With Your Current Home?
One of the biggest drivers of moving is being unsatisfied with our current situation. Something just isn’t working anymore and has reached a point of considering something new. What is this for you?
Where Do I Start?
As with most processes, for example: traveling, cooking a new recipe, or looking for a plumber, we often start by learning more about the process before diving in. For traveling, we research places to visit and places to eat. When cooking a new recipe, we review each step and make sure we have all of the ingredients. When looking for a plumber, we look up a few plumbers and their reviews.
The home-buying process should be no different. The average person will purchase up to 3 homes in their lifetime. It’s imperative to get acquainted with the process before diving in. Getting acquainted with the process will make the journey less overwhelming and more straight-forward.
Learn About the Home-buying Process
- Buyer Consultation: meet and greet with an agent for a 1:1 informative session to learn how it all works, each step of the process, what an offer needs to look like in today’s market, and any local market expectations to be aware of. This is often the best way because it’s a great time to get a feel and a vibe of the agent to consider if you will be a great team working together.
- Home-buyer class or webinar: many agents will host home-buyer classes and webinars. This is a great opportunity to learn along with other first-time home-buyers, and often from your own home. I find these to be great broader overviews. Then if you want to get more detailed or tailored to the market you will be searching in, the next step will be a 1:1 buyer consultation with a local agent.
Connect With a Local Full-time Agent
Going back to what I said earlier, the average person will purchase up to 3 homes in their lifetime. Full-time agents are doing this week-in and week-out. The best part is, for you as a buyer, there are no fees to engage with a buyer’s agent! The seller pays their agent a commission fee to market and to sell their home. The commission fee gets split with the buyer's agent for bringing the buyer. It’s an investment and an investment in your team. Connecting with an agent will line up all the pieces and take some of the stress off towards your investment in real estate.
Speak to a Lender
This often seems to be the step that buyers want to put off until the last minute, but it will set you up for success to do this step at the beginning of the process. Speaking to a lender will:
- Verify that you are qualified to purchase a home and verify your maximum purchase budget. Then you will have a good sense of which homes to look at and what price point to shop under.
- Financial Strategy. It's more than just generating a pre-approval letter and a low interest rate. It's tailoringa strategy for the right loan option based on your financial portfolio and financial goals.
- Any issues or kinks with your finances can be uncovered early.
- It’s a pre-requisite to writing an offer. Your offer will not get looked at or considered without providing verification that you are qualified to purchase the home.
- It’s your ticket to touring homes. Touring homes without verifying that you are qualified to purchase is essentially just window shopping.
Many lenders will speak with you and share what kind of loan options they can provide. They can generically pre-qualify you over the phone to give you an idea of where you might qualify. An official pre-approval letter will come after the lender has reviewed your financial documents, credit score, debt to income ratio, work history, etc. This can take up to a few days depending on the complexities of your file. The official pre-approval letter is what will be needed to write an offer on a home.
Getting acquainted with the home-buying process, connecting with an agent, and speaking with a lender are the first steps in entering the real estate market. These initial steps will get your “ducks in a row” and set you up for success in the next phase of the process — touring homes and writing offers.